By Adam Clifford
Canberra Chill’s Men’s and Women’s teams have put themselves well in the finals frame after recording victories over the Tassie Tigers in Hobart tonight.
The Canberra Chill silenced a parochial Hobart home crowd with a stunning come-from-behind victory to defeat the Tassie Tigers in a thrilling penalty shootout 3-2 after scores were locked 4-4 at full time.
In a captivating Sultana Bran Hockey One League clash, the Tigers incredibly led 4-1 inside the final three minutes of regular time, before Davis Atkin lifted the Chill off the canvas with a thunderbolt strike from the circle’s edge.
When Atkin completed his conversion opportunity with aplomb to make it 4-3, just one minute and forty-five seconds remained on the clock.
As Tassie tried frantically to kill the match, the Chill mounted one final foray forward and earned a penalty corner attempt with just twelve seconds remaining.
Up stepped James Day, who had earlier seen a tame penalty stroke well saved by Tigers keeper Henry Chambers, and he slammed home the equaliser to take the match to a shootout.
Both sides converted their opening opportunities through Gary Backhus and Josh Beltz for their respective teams before Jack Staines and Eddie Ockenden were both denied by world-class goalkeeping.
Atkin returned to haunt the Tigers, coolly sweeping beyond Chambers to score, while hat-trick hero Jack Welch failed to find the target for Tassie.
Day and Hayden Beltz then traded conversions to have the Chill 3-2 up, but Aiden Dooley’s effort to claim victory for the visitors was denied by a clutch Chambers.
Needing to score to keep the Tigers in the hunt, Jeremy Edwards was denied by an unbelievable double save from Kookaburras keeper Andrew Charter to clinch the unlikeliest of victories.
Speaking post-match, Chill coach Seyi Onitiri was proud of the collective effort of his side and encouraged them to soak up and enjoy the moment.
“We’re very happy with the win and there are things that happened in that game that we’ll have to work on, but it’s hard to win games at this level so, for the moment, we’ll just savour the win and pick apart those moments later,” Onitiri said post-game.
“Even when we were down though, we just stuck to our processes and the shape was pretty good and the work rate was good. We missed a (penalty) stroke, we missed a few others things but the guys didn’t get their heads down, so we’re pretty excited.”
Onitiri also reserved praise for the performance of Atkin, who narrowly missed selection for the Burras Sultan of Johor Cup team that is currently competing overseas.
“He’s very important for us and I’m just thrilled for him. He’s a young guy that has worked really hard. We were hoping he’d actually be away with the Australian Under 21 team at the moment, but we think he’s playing great hockey and I’m thrilled he was able to put in a performance like that.”
Earlier, the return of Kookaburras forward Welch had stolen the show, as he needed just four minutes to mark his return with a deft deflection goal into the roof of the net.
A remarkable stick save that simply had to be seen to be believed from Charter denied Welch’s conversion attempt.
Seemingly well beaten, Charter thrust his stick around his back without any sight of Welch and got a piece of the ball to knock it wide.
Inspired by his heroics, the Chill levelled the scores up when Day’s penalty corner could only be parried into the net by Chambers in the 26th minute.
In the shadows of half-time, Welch earned a penalty stroke for a crunching tackle and Edwards duly converted from the penalty spot, before Welch dropped the ball underneath Charter to make it 3-1.
Edwards then returned the favour of the Chill, cleaning up Ben Staines, but Day’s penalty stroke attempt was well negotiated by Chambers.
With that let off, Welch completed his hat-trick barely a minute later with a penalty corner flick and leading 4-1 with less than three minutes to go the home side appeared comfortable winners.
But Atkin had other ideas, kickstarting an incredible smash-and-grab victory that will go down in the folklores of Hockey One League history and now firmly puts the men from the nation’s capital in the box seat to seal a ticket to Bendigo’s semi-final series.
The Tigers next go in search of points away against the Perth Thundersticks on Saturday night, while the Chill can consolidate their top four spot with victory against the Adelaide Fire on Thursday.
Tassie Tigers 4 (Welch 4’/30’/35’, Edwards 30’)
Canberra Chill 4 (Day 26’/60+, Atkin 59’/59’)
Canberra Chill won 3-2 on penalties
Thursday 20 October 2022
Tasmanian Hockey Centre
Umpires: Tim Sheahan & Aaron Gotting
Tassie Tigers Men’s team: 4.Hayden Beltz, 5.Benjamin Austin, 7.Josh Mardell, 8.Joseph Murphy, 9.Jeremy Edwards, 11.Eddie Ockenden, 13.Joshua Beltz (c), 14.Jack Welch, 15.Kieron Arthur, 19.Tim Deavin, 20.James Bourke, 22.Oliver Pritchard, 23.Henry Chambers (gk), 26.Oliver Smith, 27.Gobindraj Gill
Canberra Chill Men’s team: 2.Ben Staines, 3.Anand Gupte, 4.James Day, 6.Connor Tuddenham, 7.Ben Craig (c), 8.Sean Baker, 9.Jamie Hawke, 10.Owen Chivers, 11.Gary Backhus, 12.Jake Staines, 14.Glenn Turner, 15.Hayden Dillon, 17.Aidan Dooley, 24.Davis Atkin, 30.Andrew Charter (gk)
A masterclass from Kalindi Commerford has inspired the Canberra Chill to a 3-0 victory away to a gallant Tassie Tigers side and sent them top of the Sultana Bran Hockey One League on goal difference for the first time.
Depending on other results, the Chill’s occupancy on top spot may only be temporary but their performance demonstrated they can be a force to be reckoned with.
Commerford would have covered virtually every blade of turf at the Tasmanian Hockey Centre in one of her finest displays of aggressive ball running, before recognising her team’s victory in her own unique way post-match.
“It was a great performance by the girls. It’s always hard playing in front of a crowd that’s not your own, travelling too because it was quite a big trip for us from Tasmania to Canberra, so I’m really proud of the girls and the effort we put out,” Commerford said post-match.
Commerford also stated that she believes the team can do more damage in the Hockey One League and have plenty of petrol left in the tank.
“(We can go) all the way baby! But it’s a game-by-game approach for us. We’re very much a stay in the moment team, whether it’s SnapChat, team talk, training, game, it’s moment by moment.”
Tassie had opened the match impressively with Jillian Wolgemuth sliding the first attempt on goal for the hosts, while Canberra continued their barren run from the set piece.
Debutant Lauren Yee was impressive, combining with Commerford on countless times and slamming a tomahawk strike inches wide of the near post.
The match was placed on the Chill’s terms when Stephanie Kindon deflected home in the 23rd minute after fast stickwork from skipper Naomi Evans.
Tigers goalkeeper Cami Vaughan came up trumps to deny the conversion attempt in an eye-catching display on her debut, while down the other end, the Tigers calls for a penalty stroke were waved away as half-time approached.
The Tigers were awarded back-to-back set piece opportunities in the third quarter but failed to test Chill shot stopper Rene Hunter with their planned field goal option and their wastefulness was punished in the 42nd minute as Shihori Oikawa scored from a penalty stroke.
Despite a great first save from Vaughan, Madison Doar converted to stretch the Chill’s advantage to 3-0, where it would remain as their game management prowess came to the fore.
The Chill will return home to face the Adelaide Fire next Thursday night from 6:30pm in a fascinating test of either side’s title hopes, while the Tigers will head to Western Australia to face the Perth Thundersticks on Saturday night.
Tassie Tigers 0
Canberra Chill 3 (Kindon 23’, Oikawa 42’, M.Doar 42’)
Thursday 20 October 2022
Tasmanian Hockey Centre
Umpires: Nicola Brown & Rhiannon Murrie
Tassie Tigers Women’s team: 1.Sarah McCambridge, 2.Jillian Wolgemuth, 4.Maddi Brooks, 5.Taylor Brooks, 6.Raeleigh Phillips, 7.Maddy Murphy (c), 8.Cassie Sumfest, 9.Emily Donovan, 11.Eliza Westland, 12.Lou Maddock, 14.Brooke DeBerdine, 15.Lucy Cooper, 20.Beth Dobbie, 21.Lauren Canning, 23.Camilla Vaughan (gk)
Canberra Chill Women’s team: 4.Madison Doar, 6.Katie Doar, 7.Naomi Evans (c), 8.Laura Reid, 11.Sophie Gaughan, 14.Emily Robson, 16.Shihori Oikawa, 18.Olivia Martin, 20.Stephanie Kindon, 21.Mikaela Patterson, 23.Kalindi Commerford, 24.Sarah White, 25.Lauren Yee, 28.Catriona Bailey-Price, 32.Rene Hunter (gk)